Super Bowl Brings Construction to New Orleans

The Super Bowl is only a little over a week away, and this year, it’s being hosted in the Superdome – just a couple of miles from Levelset’s home in Uptown New Orleans.  A big event like the Super Bowl always brings an influx of people and business to the area, and some of that business is construction.  One fairly unique aspect to the construction that attends an event like the Super Bowl is the fabrication of television broadcast sets.  However, just like previous posts regarding Mardi Gras viewing stands and “construction” for hurricane preparation, the question is whether or not mechanic’s lien protection extends to parties doing that work.

Can You Lien for Work Constructing Broadcast Sets?

This question can be viewed through basically the same the lens as the other scenarios mentioned above (Mardi Gras stands and hurricane preparation).  In most states, it is probably fairly cut and dry that the answer is No, you are not afforded mechanic’s lien protection for that type of construction work.  Remember, incorporation of the work into the piece of property is a key to mechanic’s lien rights.  Clearly, just like Mardi Gras stands, building a television broadcast set is a construction project, and just as clearly, there is some benefit to the property owner.  Unfortunately, however, since the broadcast set is a temporary structure there are very likely no lien rights in most states.  An easy rule of thumb that is generally (though not always) appropriate, is “no permanent attachment – no lien rights”.

In Louisiana, however, the answer is not so clear.  First, the parties allowed mechanic’s lien protection in Louisiana are:

(1) Contractors, for the price of their work.

(2) Laborers or employees of the owner, for the price of work performed at the site of the immovable.

(3) Sellers, for the price of movables sold to the owner that become component parts of the immovable, or are consumed at the site of the immovable, or are consumed in machinery or equipment used at the site of the immovable.

Note that the requirement that movables become component parts, or consumed into, the property only applies to material suppliers – contractors and subcontractors are entitled to lien for the value of their work, as long as the obligation arises out of a lienable “work”.  A work is defined by Louisiana statute as:

a single continuous project for the improvement, construction, erection, reconstruction, modification, repair, demolition, or other physical change of an immovable or its component parts.

This is where the protection may come for the local contractors building the tv stages, “other physical change” is a pretty broad category, and it is clear that the erecting of a large television broadcast set would result in a physical change to a piece of property.  However, the statute is silent on whether the physical change must be permanent.  While it is generally the practice of courts to not read words into statutes that are not present in the clear text, the fact that all of the other actions listed result in a permanent change to the property may cause a judge to lean in that direction.

So, the answer to the question of whether a mechanics lien may be brought for the construction of a television broadcast set is: “Generally no.  Maybe in Louisiana, but probably not there, either.”